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Full text of "Alexander von Humboldt"

322                               LIFE  OF
soil and the climate, lint the people, their language., art,
and literature., refreshed and pleased him.    And his
love  for antiquity   could in   no other  country ravel
amid  such interesting  associations.     Italy |was fore
most in  nearly all the branches of civic and political
activity; and in the centuries in which the modern
tendencies  first   rose   in   intellectual  importance   to
oppose the ancient life, its history surpasses that of all
other nations.    According to HumboldtJs  opinion, no
country can be  compared to " Italy in the number of
eminent men which  it lias  produced.     The study of
art and nature was developed here earlier than with
any other nation.    Even the tone and sterling strength
of its language,  its   poetic fitness,  filled   him   with
admiration.    Of all the modifications which the Latin
has undergone, tbis seems to him as the most interest-
ing, and he has made its  remarkable  formation the
subject of especial consideration in the introduction to
his great philological work.     In no   other Romanic
language has the modern spirit  remained so  faithful
to the ancient form, without detriment, however, to its
independence  or peculiar  characteristic.     Huxoboldt
also acknowledged the great and beautiful in Italian
art   and  poetry, which   harmonized   more   with   his
spiritual tendency than  the severe Northern  art ; so
Raphael interested him more than Shakespeare, and
Ariosto more than  Ossian^s shadowy creations.    He
only prefers the Germanic tendency where  depth of
meaning and truth of characteristic is so ornamented,
with   classic Jseauty,   as   we find it  with   the   great
modern German poets. He could not, of course, wit hall
Ms appreciation of the Italian world and its greatness,
overlook tlie present degradation of the people ; but
lie forgave them, in consideration of what they had
once been and once achieved.
If Italy, as a whole, was so dear to Humboldt, it
was natural that Rome, the Eternal City, should
excite an enthusiasm in him which was sometimes
carried very far, but whose deeply-felt expression is
irresistibly attractive to Ms admirers, Home's great-